The U.S. has led a "maximum pressure" campaign to increase economic and diplomatic sanctions on North Korea until the regime comes forward to discuss its denuclearization.
Pence told The Washington Post last week that the campaign will intensify, but "if you want to talk, we'll talk".
In Wednesday's speech, Pence said the USA wants to make sure North Korea understands the U.S. stance and that if there is an opportunity for talks, President Donald Trump has made it clear he always believes in talking. These developments are a result of the vice president's visit to South Korea where he shared a platform with top officials from North Korea who included Kim's blood sister and the ceremonial leader of North Korea.
Pence called North Korea a "prison state" and accused the ruling family of widespread abuses, including the murder of Kim Jong Un's brother and uncle.
Pence said he did not greet the delegation given that North Korea's was "the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet".
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However, senior USA officials familiar with the situation said Pence's trip to the Olympics was meant to serve as a counter to North Korea's massive propaganda machine and that media reports indicating otherwise have bolstered the rogue nation's image at a time when it is aggressively pursuing its nuclear weapons program.
"The U.S.is in no way easing up pressure on the regime", one senior U.S. official familiar with the Trump administration's strategy told the Free Beacon on Monday.
The White House official says Pence stood only for the US team, despite other people in the box standing and applauding when athletes from the two Koreas walked in together.
On the sidelines of his trip to South Korea, where the Winter Olympics are being held, Pence held multiple conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Pence also helmed the announcement of massive new sanctions on North Korea in the days leading up to the Olympics, a move that represents a "continuation of the U.S.'s maximum pressure campaign to get them to halt their nuclear pursuits", one senior US official said.
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Trump, who has at times exchanged taunts and threats with Kim, said in early January after the first intra-Korean talks in over two years that the United States was willing to speak to North Korea 'under the right circumstances, ' although it was far from clear whether this would pay dividends.
This image shows U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and the North Korean leader's sister, Kim Yo-jong.
The president also highlighted the case of Warmbier, a US college student imprisoned for 15 years for stealing a propaganda poster who died days after his release last June.
The idea on meeting with North Korea has been rejected by Washington for months, as the New York Times reported. It was widely interpreted as the USA easing conditions for talks after insisting the North first show a commitment to denuclearize.
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